Can you ever truly write a memory?


I was at a family gathering last night back in Ireland. It happened at my late grandmother’s house; the place where I spent some of the best days of my childhood. The nostalgia crept up on me instantly as I walked up to the farm. It was the place where my cousins I and first allowed our imaginations to run wild. They were the days when I created my worlds physically to run amok within. In some ways I suppose it was where my love of the imagination grew from. I don’t think that I’d be a writer today if I hadn’t spent my childhood making stories among those fields. A broken down tractor that became a multi-functional vehicle. A collection of trees that became the set of a million different dramas. The bales of hay that became a wrestling ring. However, when I began to think about writing about what I saw; I couldn’t.

There were so many stories going through my head, so many characters, and so many plots. It was all there – in some ways – ready formed to be written down. So why couldn’t I just write them down? Would it be like I was debasing my past by writing it? Or am I just not a good enough writer to truly capture my past in a satisfactory way? I think that in some ways the latter has got some truth to it. I think that it might be because the memories are so real to me that I see no point in trying to replicate them. I could never re-create them so perfectly that people would feel what I felt when I experienced them.  So would there be a point in writing them at all then?

The other reason that it’s difficult to write about the past is that it doesn’t allow me to delve into my own imagination. I’ve never felt very inspired by the concept of writing non-fiction. For me, the joy is in creating my own worlds and moving forward. My past will always mean a lot to me and it will always be where I began. But my writing will always need to be grounded in my present and my mind. So I think I will have to leave the past as the memories in my head.



Filed under Scribbling a Path

2 responses to “Can you ever truly write a memory?

  1. karen

    A single memory can be broken up into so many different stories, hard to know where to start or – more to the point – if there is even a start to that memory. I would imagine it’s more a case of being inspired by individual events to move of to an imaginative telling of an alternative story. I don’t think I would ever be a person to attempt writing anything remotely autobiographical either. It’s best left in my own head!

    • You should try it and see what you come up with! I’m thinking of trying it myself.

      I’ve just started reading Maggie Cassidy by Karouac. It’s amazing the way that he writes autobiographically but with such depth and meaning.

      I think to reach the ability of him would be the dream. I might give it a go though and see what happens…let me know if you try it. And how it goes!

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